BAGHDAD ø The United States has captured two top aides of Abu Mussib Al
Zarqawi, regarded as the most lethal insurgent in Iraq.
U.S. officials said the military arrested what they termed were two key
associates of Al Zarqawi. They said the two associates were captured in
December in Ramadi in Al Anbar province near the Syrian border.
The two Al Zarqawi aides were identified as Saleh Arugayan Kahlil
Mahalawi, also known as Abu Ubaydah, captured on Dec. 8. Bassim Mohammad
Hazeem, also known as Abu Khattab, was arrested on Dec. 12.
Officials said both were cell leaders for Al Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad
group. They said the group operated in Ramadi and western Anbar province.
The cells were said to have killed Iraqi police and security forces, and
business and political leaders throughout the Anbar
province. The military said the cells also abducted and executed 11 Iraqi
National Guardsmen, detonated improvised explosive devices and car bombs
resulting in the death or injury of dozens of Ramadi citizens.
Officials said the cells also smuggled what they termed foreign
terrorists into Iraq. They did not elaborate.
"Local citizens are providing useful, detailed information regarding
these terrorists," a U.S. military statement said. "The information provided
by the citizens of Ar Ramadi has led to the capture of several members of
this group since early December."
The military said many foreign fighters were also detained along with
Mahalawi and Hazeem. The statement said detainees provided information
"regarding the involvement of other individuals who are actively recruiting
and smuggling foreign terrorists."